“Our task must be to free ourselves … by widening our circles of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”- Albert Einstein
This famous quote reminds us that systemic change of the kind we urgently need today requires a deep turning of mind and consciousness, as much as a shift in our economic and political systems.
Friend of Gaia and Earth Jurisprudence Practitioner Method Gundidza attended the Thematic Forum on Extractivism in South Africa last November. There he led two exercises, inspired by the work of Joanna Macy, that aim to help us makes this shift to a more generous consciousness, inclusive of all life on Earth.
The following article shares those exercises so you can practice them yourself or with friends and colleagues. It includes links to further information from the Thematic Forum and Joanna Macy’s ‘Work that Reconnects’.
Words and guidance from Method Gundidza of the Earthlore Foundation.
Exercise One: invoking the beings of the three times
This activity can be done at the beginning of a workshop like we did. It is to acknowledge and bring the energy and the presence of the people who went before us, known as the Ancestors. These are people who inspire us and our movements because of their contributions to it. We draw energy in knowing that the activist work we do today to protect and defend our Mother Earth was started by those people whom we don’t see anymore. These are our parents, scientists, philosophers, spiritual and traditional leaders whom we know in our own spaces, but who have passed on.
We also acknowledge the beings of the present; these being ourselves living physically in the present now whom we know in our respective places where we come including those all gathered here for the TSF (Thematic Social Forum). We are the beings of the present who are activists now and are working hard to protect Mother Earth.
Lastly we acknowledge the beings of the future whose faces we can’t yet imagine, but who we are sure are on their way to this present realm that we are in ourselves. These are the people whom we work very hard for, so that they may inherit from us an Earth that is full of life and all its support systems.
During each of the three acknowledgements, we pause to remember and say both loudly and silently the prominent names that came to our minds after which we chant the chorus “Gather with us now in this hour. Join with us now in this place.”
Exercise Two: Reporting to Chief Seattle
This activity aims to honour the Earth in all her different manifestations- as sea, forests, mountains, wetlands etc. We take this opportunity to remember how much Mother Earth has been wounded through the different destructive activities in the places where we come from.
In doing so we were inspired by what the Native Chief Sealth or Seattle of USA said to his tribal assembly in 1854 as his response to the offer by the US Colonial government to buy their native Duwamish land. His full speech is available here.
All participants had the opportunity to read the full text of the speech, and after each reading we imagined the presence of the Chief in the room and told him in silence, but also loudly how our different lands have been and continue to be damaged. Participants share how the seas are polluted by plastics and oil, the rivers are full of cyanide from gold mining, skies are full of smoke some from coal fired power stations…
We then end the process by commuting ourselves as the living to work hard to uphold the wishes of Chief Seattle to become ‘sons of the Earth’ rather than to be her masters.
Find out more…
- Method Gundidza is a graduate of Gaia’s transformative trainings for African Earth Jurisprudence (EJ) Practitioners. Read more about Method’s journey and the growing African movement for EJ here.
- The Thematic Social Forum on Extractivism brought together frontline communities, activists, unions, faith leaders and others from across the world to build solidarity and forge a united front against the violence mining bears against people and the Earth. Read the final statement of the TSF here.
- Joanna Macy is one of Gaia’s most esteemed elders and advisors. Her ‘Work that Reconnects’, commitment to hope and expanding our ‘circle of compassion’ is a constant inspiration. Find out more about her work.